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Thread: Chimney Feathers Problem

  1. #1
    Master MakeColdplayHistory's Avatar
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    Chimney Feathers Problem

    We have two fireplaces at the front of the house - open fires, one in the front room and one in the bedroom above. We use the downstairs one one every year and have it swept etc. The bedroom one hasn't been used in 15 years (since Mrs MCH and I moved into the attic). We've had a few fires lit this year including tonight. I've just walked past daughter's bedroom and there's a smell of smoke and she tells me that it's been the same every time we've had a fire this year - no actual smoke but definitely smells of it. Further conversation and Mrs MCH happens to mention that over the summer she found a sooty half brick in the downstairs fireplace and chucked it out.

    So it's pretty clear the feathers between the two flues have failed and obviously won't have another fire until it's sorted.

    We've had a flue at the back of the house lined (to a wood burning stove). I assume we could just have the front done as well at least to the downstairs fireplace i.e. there's no issue using a flue liner and open fireplace? We'd obviously have to have the one to the upstairs fireplace done too if we ever wanted to use that fireplace again.

    Anyone got any expertise/experience in this area? Any other options?

    edit: all rooms concerned are adequately centrally heated so any fireplaces are for effect only - we're not going to freeze while this is sorted out.
    Last edited by MakeColdplayHistory; 21st November 2019 at 01:11.

  2. #2
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    I can’t say for sure if the flue idea would be ok, although it sounds sensible. I would ring some local woodburner installers and ask their opinion.
    It's just democracy.

  3. #3
    Master Maysie's Avatar
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    If your chimneys are the huge inglenook style then you may be able to get a ladder inside and repair the problem, whatever it may be, otherwise you are pretty well stuck with lining the chimney with a new flue liner as you suggest and install a woodburner.

    Having moved from open fires to (good quality) woodburners several years ago, I would now never consider anything other than a high quality woodburner in any fireplace. It was the very first thing we did when we moved house as we use the fire every night for around 8 months of the year. The modern ones have huge areas of glass and are as lovely to look at as an open fire, but making that initial change can be hard! It sounds like you have been presented with the perfect excuse to move over to a woodburner.

    HWAM and RAIS are worth a look.

  4. #4
    Master draftsmann's Avatar
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    Perhaps a cast in-situ concrete flue liner would work.

  5. #5
    Master MakeColdplayHistory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maysie View Post
    If your chimneys are the huge inglenook style then you may be able to get a ladder inside and repair the problem, whatever it may be, otherwise you are pretty well stuck with lining the chimney with a new flue liner as you suggest and install a woodburner.
    Definitely not inglenook or anything we could get even a Victorian child up. We have a woodburner in another room and really like it but it would not suit this particular room. I would like to retain the open fireplace if at all possible and would probably just stop using it if the only solution was a stove.
    Last edited by MakeColdplayHistory; 21st November 2019 at 11:17.

  6. #6
    Craftsman
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    Chimney Feathers Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by MakeColdplayHistory View Post
    Definitely not inglenook or anything we could get even a Victorian child up. We have a woodburner in another room and really like it but it would not suit this particular room. I would like to retain the open fireplace if at all possible and would probably just stop using it if the only solution was a stove.
    My wife and I had a similar debate - I wanted a wood burner, she wanted an open fire. We ended up with a wood burner know as “The Benjamin Franklin (Regency)”, made by Stovax. It’s really designed to be open (there is no glass) but it does have doors which can be closed, for example if you have a roaring fire going and you decide to nip to the pub. I’ve never really liked leaving a fire unattended, and so this really is the best of both worlds.


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  7. #7
    Master Maysie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MakeColdplayHistory View Post
    Definitely not inglenook or anything we could get even a Victorian child up. We have a woodburner in another room and really like it but it would not suit this particular room. I would like to retain the open fireplace if at all possible and would probably just stop using it if the only solution was a stove.
    If the fireplaces are not that huge, then a lined flue may still work with an open fire dependent upon the installed flue size and the effective draw of smoke up the chimney. A chimwrap will help the draw as it will keep the flue warm, and there are various other 'chimney accessories' which can help with that, but I suspect you may struggle to get a decent draw and end up with smoke coming back into the room, even if it is only at certain points or when the wind blows in the wrong direction or similar. More 'suck it and see' than a science based approach.

    Tread carefully, as carbon monoxide poisoning can be very nasty indeed.

  8. #8
    Master Maysie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piemuncher22 View Post
    My wife and I had a similar debate - I wanted a wood burner, she wanted an open fire. We ended up with a wood burner know as “The Benjamin Franklin (Regency)”, made by Stovax. It’s really designed to be open (there is no glass) but it does have doors which can be closed, for example if you have a roaring fire going and you decide to nip to the pub. I’ve never really liked leaving a fire unattended, and so this really is the best of both worlds.


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    We did something very similar in our old house and installed a old refurbished Jotul No 6 into an old inglenook, where our open fire smoked like no-ones business, the Jotul worked like an open fire on legs and looked much better than the photos suggest. From memory it needed a 200 diameter flue though, which is unlikely to fit down a smallish flue(?).
    https://www.knight-stoves.co.uk/jotul-no-6-refurbished/

    Could use a similar idea?
    Last edited by Maysie; 21st November 2019 at 13:15. Reason: Cant spell!

  9. #9
    Master MakeColdplayHistory's Avatar
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    Just a thought... If we block off the fireplace in the bedroom, is there any reason why we shouldn't continue to use the downstairs one?
    We probably should have blocked it 15 years ago but it would have to be a 'semi-permanent' job as, once all children have left the house, we plan to move back into that room and would like the option of a real fire again. That's a good 5 years off though.

  10. #10
    Master Maysie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MakeColdplayHistory View Post
    Just a thought... If we block off the fireplace in the bedroom, is there any reason why we shouldn't continue to use the downstairs one?
    We probably should have blocked it 15 years ago but it would have to be a 'semi-permanent' job as, once all children have left the house, we plan to move back into that room and would like the option of a real fire again. That's a good 5 years off though.
    That will depend on the arrangement of your flues and feathers within the chimney and where the exact location of the defect is - assuming there is only one defect. If you already know there is an issue, I would 100% line the chimney to be sure that you have a sealed route for flue gases/smoke straight to the outside. It is simply not worth taking the risk.

  11. #11
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    Also, whatever you end up doing make sure you buy a carbon monoxide monitor/alarm.

  12. #12
    Master MakeColdplayHistory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weirdfish View Post
    Also, whatever you end up doing make sure you buy a carbon monoxide monitor/alarm.
    Definitely.

  13. #13
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    Chimney Feathers Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Maysie View Post
    We did something very similar in our old house and installed a old refurbished Jotul No 6 into an old inglenook, where our open fire smoked like no-ones business, the Jotul worked like an open fire on legs and looked much better than the photos suggest. From memory it needed a 200 diameter flue though, which is unlikely to fit down a smallish flue(?).
    https://www.knight-stoves.co.uk/jotul-no-6-refurbished/

    Could use a similar idea?
    You are right. If my memory serves, a “closed appliance” (air tight wood burner) needs a 6” flue liner and an “open appliance” needs an 8” flue liner. In old money, and dependent upon the age of the house of course, a brick flue is normal around 9”. A 6” liner should drop down there fairly easily, but you might have a bit of trouble getting an 8” liner down there.

    In response to the OP though, I would get a flue test done. I’ve never actually seen it done, but I am lead to believe they somehow plug the top of the flue, put a smoke bomb in, and blow air up the flue to create a small amount of pressure in the flue (probably in mb). Then the Chimeny breast is inspected from top to bottom to see if the smoke comes out anywhere.

    Likelihood is though, if it’s damaged, it will need a liner. You could also stick a camera up the flue and have a look. I think it’s pretty cheap to hire a drain inspection camera from HSS and that should do the job.


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